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BW Businessworld

Knowing Investors' Choice Is Key

Abdulla Al Abdooli, managing director of the RAK government-owned Al Marjan Island LLC, the promoter of Al Marjan Islands, was in India recently to invite the country's top realty players to this project and speaks to BW Businessworld

Al Marjan Island, a group of four man-made islands in Ras Al Khaimah is currently emerging as one of the top tourism spots in the United Arab Emirates. Innovatively designed for beaches, resorts, hotels and residential apartments with a theme of leisure, luxury and lifestyle, it claimed to have bucked the recessionary trend in the gulf realty market with sheer innovation. Abdulla Al Abdooli, managing director of the RAK government-owned Al Marjan Island LLC, the promoter of Al Marjan Islands, was in India recently to invite the country's top realty players to this project and speaks to BW Businessworld. Edited excerpts:

Several real estate projects have been put on hold in the key gulf markets and still how come you (Ras Al Khaimah) come forward with a new project and make it a success?
Ras Al Khaimah has its own unique features such as its weather, beaches and the mountains that form the key attractions as a tourist destination. Our competitive pricing and the innovation that we have introduced by understanding the choices of the investors like their own budget, design among others also played a key role in making the project attractive. Also, we have already set up the best-in-class amenities, including landscaping, energy, IT, water etc., for the entire area of development, ensuring the investor a "plug-and-play" status.

What is the total area of development and how much was the investment by the promoters?
The islands cover an area of 2.7 million square meters of reclaimed land, extending 4.5 kilometres into the pristine waters of the Arabian Gulf. It has 23 kilometres of water-frontage and 7 kilometres of white, sandy beaches. It would have 6,500 planned residential units, 8000 hotel rooms, 400 rooms for wellness retreats and 600 holiday villas. We spent more than $1 billion in the project and have already sold 50 per cent of the project. It has got 3 world class hospitality properties including Rixos, Double Tree and Marjan Island Resort & Spa, managed by Accor. The forthcoming developments include hotels, villas, apartments, wellness centres, community facilities, a tourist port, restaurants, shops and lifestyle hotspots.

Don't you think UAE is an oversupplied realty market and why the huge capacity being built up?
Each emirate in UAE has its own specific requirements and market situations. Ras Al Khaimah still has a huge gap between the demand and supply, considering the estimated tourist flow to this emirate even now and in future. The higher returns on investment considering the affordable land prices, competitive operational costs, and subsequent high levels of profitability also make it an attractive investment destination.

Why India is targeted as a key market for sourcing investment?
The strategic location of the island makes it an ideal investment destination for Indian investors. Paired with the freehold facility that makes investment not only secure, but also tax free. I would love to see India's top builders like DLF and Hiranandani to come to Al Marjan islands to invest and become partners with us.

Will you be helping investors to access loans in dirham from UAE banks?
We as part of government, not only work with leading banks in the UAE to help providing financial assistance to investors and project owners in the island, but also with local authorities to help in terms of business registration and other permissions.




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